Enlarged prostate symptoms
During puberty the prostate gland is about the size of an almond but by adulthood it grows to the size of a walnut. This is all well and normal but sometimes in later life the prostate increases in size even further and this is where problems arise.
Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms are collectively known as ‘LUTS’ and these include the symptoms of an enlarged prostate (otherwise known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH for short). The symptoms of this condition include problems urinating, bladder discomfort and the need to pass urine urgently.
From medication to lifestyle habits, there are many ways to deal with an enlarged prostate. On top of this however, making a few changes to your diet could also improve things, even if it’s just a little.
Good foods: Nuts
There are a few foods that trigger an inflammatory response in the body and if there is inflammation in the body generally, it is more likely to stretch to the prostate too. Unhealthy fats which are found in red meat and highly processed meats like salami can trigger an inflammatory response so reducing your intake of these things will lessen the pressure on your prostate.
You can easily swap these unhealthy fats for healthy ones which are found in nuts such as cashews, walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts. However, other good sources of healthy fats include:
- Unsalted, unroasted nuts
- Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
- Flaxseed oil
- Fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, tuna
Good foods: Vegetables
Even if you’ve previously found them to be uninspiring, vegetables are one particular food group that should be embraced wholeheartedly when you’re suffering from an enlarged prostate.
Four servings a day is the recommended amount and this can be easily achieved if you take two at lunch and two at dinner. Soups, stir fries and casseroles are a good way to incorporate more than one type of vegetable into the same meal.
On top of this vegetables come with a range of other benefits: they fill you up, are not difficult to cook and, assuming you don’t slather them in butter or deep fry them, they are very healthy too.
Being overweight can worsen the symptoms of an enlarged prostate so the fact that vegetables are healthy is incredibly important. Therefore, put a full colour spectrum of vegetables on your plate and reap the rewards on your waistline as well as in your urinary tract.
Remember though, don’t overcook your vegetables as many vitamins and nutrients, especially vitamin C, are degraded by heat. Also, don’t leave your fruit and veg hanging around as they also lose their nutrients this way and it can cause them to become limp and mouldy.
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What are carotenoids?
A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that a higher intake of carotenoids and vitamin C decreased the risk of LUTS.1
Carotenoids are found in plants and algae and give the likes of carrots, pumpkins, pineapples and nectarines their bright colours. Our bodies can use carotenoids as antioxidants but they are also good for immune health, for protecting the eyes and for aiding the health of the prostate. This is yet another reason why a plate of colourful food (albeit not a plate of Smarties or Lucky Charms) is much better for our health than a plate of beige!
Here’s an interesting thing though – the protective effects of carotenoids wasn’t seen with supplements so popping vitamin pills just won’t help here. Instead you will have to use your diet to up your intake of carotenoids and that means eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Good foods: pulses
An Italian study spanning a massive 11 years and involving nearly 3000 men found that a diet consisting of lots of processed foods (including cereal, ready meals, crisps and some meats) actually increased the number of BPH symptoms men suffered from. What’s more, these effects on BPH symptoms were shown to be the same for men whose consumption of fruit and vegetables was particularly low.
This study suggests that your prostate may benefit from a diet full of fresh produce rather than convenience food so what should you opt for?
Pulses such as beans, lentils and peas are a good option as there is so much variety to choose from, plus they are super healthy! These are rich in an array vitamins and minerals, as well as protein, iron and fibre. Pulses are often used as a substitute to meat and so can be added to a variety of recipes such as hot pot, burgers and curry. Just explore our recipe hub for some ideas for your next dinner!
The study I’ve just discussed also found that consuming citrus fruit helped to reduce the severity of enlarged prostate symptoms. This may be down to the fact that these foods have a high vitamin C content which may offer the prostate gland some protection thus reducing symptoms to some extent.3
Fortunately, when it comes to consuming citrus fruits you have a lot of choice. There are the old favourites such as oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, clementines, lemons and limes, as well as a few more unusual suspects such as kumquats, tangelos and ugli fruit.
What not to eat and drink
Ok, so this blog has made clear that fresh produce including vegetables, fruit, pulses, nuts and fish are the best options for those with an enlarged prostate whilst processed foods and red meat should be firmly off the menu. However, if you’d like to more about what not to eat when suffering from an enlarged prostate then simply look at my blog on the topic. This explains a bit more about why certain food and drinks should be avoided when you suffer from this particular condition.
Using herbal remedies
Once you’ve had the diagnosis of an enlarged prostate herbal remedies can also prove helpful.
Prosasan contains Saw Palmetto berries for example, which work to relieve the urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.
This product is only requires you to take one tablet a day so it’s extremely convenient and easy to use.
1 Maserejian NM et al. Journal of Nutrition 2011; 141: 267-73
2 Bravi BF et al. Urology 2006; 67: 73-79
Originally published 23 January 2015 (updated on 11 October 2018)